What time is it?

I have a life driven by time. The time on my watch, the time on my phone and the time on my computer. Time to meet, time to arrive, time to leave, time to eat. Time, time, time. It’s therefore been a curious experience to live for a month on a remote Scottish Island called Westray without a watch. I’ve only had to know what time it is a handful of times in order to catch the ferry to the Mainland of Orkney. Otherwise, the time is either daytime or night-time. Nothing else matters.

On Westray people say hello to one another when they pass. They stop to offer help when they think you might need it. They are happy to pass the day with you. On Westray the shops sell home-made and local items. They will order any food you might like to eat and get it in bulk on the next ferry. They will find someone who has what you want if, by some miracle, they haven’t got it in stock. On Westray families socialise together. I remember a disappearing world like that from my childhood.

If you ask the question ‘What time is it?’ on Westray, the correct answer is ‘The 1960s’.

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